Robots taking our jobs: the four ‘D’s to factor in



Did you hear? Robots are taking over. Already, AI is seeping into businesses and automation is handling processes worldwide. Indeed, robots are taking our jobs, and changing the nature of work.

But depending on the type of job you have, the rise of the robots may be less of a threat than you think. You can work out what the future holds for your job by weighing up the ease of automating the core skills needed, versus the value of doing so. For many roles, the difficulty of total automation outweighs its value.

This creates four paths of job evolution — roles will be disrupted, displaced, deconstructed, or durable. So, in order from least threat to most, here are the four ‘D’s of robots taking our jobs.


Durability

Durable roles are those least at risk of robots taking our jobs. The core skills needed are difficult to automate as they are not routine. A robot takeover in other sectors does not affect the value (what makes them worth doing) of durable jobs either. 

Consider trades like plumbing or mechanics. These skills involve human understanding. The tasks involved vary based on contextual factors. And the job always needs doing. For instance, even if autonomous vehicles displace delivery drivers, there’s still a need for a mechanic to maintain the vehicles.

In response: avoid complacency. While a durable job is not under immediate threat from robots, it’s helpful to keep track of the value and stability of your skills and profession. (And adapt as needed.)


Deconstruction

Deconstructed roles face threats relating to the value they provide. So, robots don’t affect the core skills a worker needs for a deconstructed role. That is, those skills are not automatable. However, the outcome and value of the jobs themselves are under threat.

For example, robots aren’t likely to take over the core skills involved in running company IT operations. But, where before these skills would apply to corporate data centre management, many end-users now prefer cloud-based services.

In response: adapt. Look to apply your skills in a way that provides value in a changing landscape. (Despite robots taking our jobs in other industries.)


Disruption

Disrupted jobs are those with easy-to-automate skills. But, the value of the job remains unchanged. Disruption means more efficiency for the workers. So, despite automating the skills, consumers receive the same level of value.

Disrupted jobs are those where a robot takeover delivers the needed value. For example, in the office, people no longer need to spend their working hours filling in forms and databases.

In response: upskill. Disruption from robots taking our jobs means no more mundane, routine tasks. But there are still other value points that need human skills. So, workers need to upskill and be ready to provide value elsewhere in the business. For example, furthering business goals or helping customers.


Displacement

Displacement occurs when it’s better for the customer or end user if robots take the job in question. The core skills of these jobs are easy to automate. Doing so creates a more efficient outcome for the customers.

For example, the core skills required by pharmacists to fulfil prescriptions are easily automated. And, automating these processes reduces the patients’ need to visit the pharmacy to order and collect medicine. Instead, they can do it all online and have their medicine delivered.

In response: retrain. These jobs are completely taken over by robots. So, workers in these roles need to retrain and find new roles. For instance, a pharmacist might focus on research or consultations. (Rather than filling prescriptions.)


Robots taking our jobs

The coming robot revolution might seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Human workers aren’t facing mass job loss at the hands of automation or robots.

Robots taking our jobs as we know them means there’s a need to embrace change. We can adapt, upskill and retrain to provide more value to our jobs.